Telephone etiquette is essential for adults and children alike. Good telephone etiquette forms a basis for developing communication skills. A general rule of thumb is to allow your child to answer the telephone only after her speech is fully developed. So it is best to avoid allowing a toddler to answer the telephone for you. While it may be interesting and amusing for you to hear your toddler speak over the telephone, other callers might find it irritating. Therefore it is ideal that you start training your child on developing her telephone etiquette right from when she is a pre-teenager. Remember that this training may take time, but with patience you can help your pre-teen child master this etiquette.
15 ways to help your pre-teenager develop a healthy telephone etiquette
- Educate your child about what kind of information they can reveal over the telephone. Remember that it is not always safe to reveal everything. How much can be revealed depends on how well your child knows the person who is calling.
- Teach your pre-teen to say just a "Hello" very politely if she answers the telephone. Tell her not to ask questions like "Who is this?", "What do you want?" and so on. This tendency is common among pre-teenagers. However if she is calling a friend or relative, she can say "Hello, this is Gita".
- Tell your child that if she is calling up her friend and the friend's parent picks up the telephone, she should remember her manners. For example, she must say "May I please speak to Janet?" and not "I want to speak to Janet.".
- If you are talking on the telephone and your child constantly interrupts you, tell her firmly that you will attend to her after the call is over. However this can be dealt with differently in case of an emergency. In such cases, you can tell the person at the other end that you will return the call as soon as possible.
- Train your child not to speak too low or too loudly into the receiver. Both of these can be very irritating to the person at the other end.
- Tell your child to allow the receiver's telephone to ring for sometime before hanging up. You must give the receiver time to answer the call.
- Request your pre-teenager who answers a call that is meant for you to tell the caller "Please hold on while I call Mum." Tell her that it is bad manners to shout "Mum, call for you." while she is holding the telephone.
- Teach your child to check the number that she wants to dial before she actually calls the number. If she dials a wrong number accidentally, ask her to apologies before she hangs up.
- Always encourage your child to make her calls only at a time when it is not likely to be a disturbance for the other person. A good idea is to follow the 9 to 9 rule unless it is an emergency. Ask her to avoid making calls before 9 am and after 9 pm.
- If the pre-teen child answers a call on your behalf and you are not in a position to take the call, ask her to enquire politely "May I please know who is calling?" This may be cases like when you are having a bath. Your pre-teen child must not disclose your actual activity. You can also teach her to take down a message on your behalf.
- Teach your pre-teen to avoid interrupting the other person when he is talking. This is common courtesy.
- Ask your pre-teen to request to call the caller back rather than making him wait if the caller will likely have to be put on hold.
- Make your pre-teen child ensure that the caller ends the call first. Tell her to be courteous when acknowledging the end of a call.
- Ensure that the pre-teen does not bang the receiver on the cradle after a call. She must place the receiver gently on the cradle.
- Tell the pre-teen to keep a paper and pen/or pencil handy in case you have to take down a message. For example if you take a call for your dad in his absence, this can be a number for him to call back. She can even repeat the number to ensure that she has got the number and the name of the caller right.
- If a parent or someone else is speaking on the telephone, teach your pre-teenager not to make a noise or overhear the call.
- It is a good idea to adopt the role-play approach to help your pre-teen develop telephone manners. You can call him up often from your cell phone or any other phone and talk to him. Setting yourself as an example may help your child learn faster.